Analysis and Summary of trip
Trip Start Apr 24, 2008
8Trip End May 13, 2008
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We started out planning to drive at 55 using cruise control to keep our MPG as high as possible. Gas ranged from $3.65 per gallon in Eastport, FL to $3.45 in Dothan, AL and Latta, SC. Our assumption going in was that we would get better gas mileage on I-95 and US-90, as they were relatively flat, and we would get worse mileage coming home up I-81 with the mountains. For one stretch in the Carolinas, I got 11.9 MPG. The overall average on the "flat" was 11.0 MPG and coming through the mountains it dropped to 10.1. Average for the trip was 10.6 MPG, not bad considering we were hauling our house on wheels, plus water, plus the motorscooter (400 lbs), the whole trip.
We purchased 185 gallons of gas at a total cost of $657 or an average of $3.55 per gallon.
Another cost for the trip was the campgrounds. We stayed in a Wal-Mart one night and spent 3 nights at our son's house in his drive. That balanced the 2nd night on Hilton Head at $49 a night. Using our Passport America membership, we found campgrounds as cheap as $10 a night. That included water and electric and use of a dump station instead of a sewer hook up. We spent 13 nights in campgrounds and spent $274 (average $21 per night) and with the 4 "free" nights, the overall average for the 17 nights on the road came to $16 a night. Obviously quality of campgrounds varied, but we were safe, comfortable, and had more than adequate facilities. Our Passport America costs $44 a year for membership, but we saved $71 total in fees on this trip alone. We'll make use of the membership further this year, I am sure.
Going out to eat is a fact of life. We don't eat ALL the meals in the RV. And while with the kids, we went out to eat with them a couple of times. We enjoyed lunches out (always cheaper than dinners) and so need to compute that cost in. We ate out seven times in 17 days, but there were a total of 17 meals consumed (adding in 2 meals when Trish and I ate and 4 when the kids were with us.) Total eating out cost was $215 or a bit over $12 per meal (not counting tip.)
Finally, no accounting would be complete without considering the tail-light fiasco. Between going in for a wheel adjustment (and bearings) and getting the tail lights replaced, we paid over $250.
So the trip cost: Gas=$657, Lodging= $274, Meals=$215, Repairs=$250. That is a total of $1,396 for 17 days, or $82 a day. It doesn't take into account cost of the coach, nor groceries purchased on a regular basis that were used during the trip. It also doesn't include cost of sports equipment (fins, surf shirts) purchased for snorkeling which didn't get used.
Does this seem like a lot? YES. Some might gasp and say, "You can't go full timing; it will cost you $2,400 a month!" Well, we WON'T be driving that much and we WON'T be taking people out to eat that much and, hopefully, we WON'T be having repairs of that magnitude EVERY month.
Realistically, we might spend $150-160 a month on gas by staying in one spot longer; our campground fee might be a bit higher, but we have seen monthly fees at a campground average $350, or $12 a night. So other than the maintenance or repair of the vehicle, most costs are discretionary as to where we stay, how far we drive, and what we eat.
Now on a more realistic note. We could not possibly go full time in our current RV. We need a bigger one that has slide outs, more cupboard space and storage space under, and a couch and easy chair for relaxing. We have learned all we can from our current RV so we are putting it up for sale. If we sell before we retire, then the money we have been paying on the mortgage will go to savings to put cash down. I've advertised on Craig's List in Richmond and Washington, DC and hope to get some interest and offers. If no offers come in, we'll keep camping and having fun.
I hope the travel blogs proved educational, informative and interesting. I think it's a pretty easy way to keep in touch once we finally get on the road.